City Gallery

Past exhibition

Alberto Garcia-Alvarez: Crossings

14 March–14 June 2015

Auckland abstract painter Alberto Garcia-Alvarez is a little-known but influential figure in New Zealand art. Born in Spain in 1928, he studied painting at the University of Barcelona. In 1960, he moved to California, and taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and had solo shows at San José Art Centre and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In 1973, he moved to Auckland where he taught at Elam School of Fine Arts for twenty years. There, he influenced a generation of artists, including Graeme Cornwall, Stephen Bambury, and Judy Millar.

Garcia-Alvarez works in series, exploring the possibilities of different approaches in parallel. Throughout his career, for instance, he has continued to make both gestural paintings and painted constructions. He has also experimented with lithography. He is best known for Collective Mind (1979), his ceramic mural on the facade of the Physics and Mathematics Building at the University of Auckland. Although he has worked consistently, he has rarely exhibited.

Crossings is an ongoing series of painted wooden constructions that Garcia-Alvarez began making in Sausalito, California, in 1967. Over the years, Garcia-Alvarez has produced more than a hundred of these constructions. Although some seem casually arranged and painted, they are always finely tuned. At first, these constructions were purely formal, with no intended symbolism. But later, the artist would occasionally admit religious and political associations. He explains: ‘The title Crossings refers to the intersection points of objects, or to ideas crossing each other. It also refers to the act of crossing; the crossing over an obstacle or a prejudice.’

Our show is culled from a larger show of Garcia-Alvarez’s constructions held at Auckland’s Tim Melville Gallery in 2014.